Draft Prospect Profile | LB Kenneth Murray, Oklahoma
Kenneth Murray, Linebacker
Height: 6-foot 2
Weight: 243 lbs
Kenneth Murray is an inside linebacker, originally from Missouri City, Texas. Born and raised in Missouri City, he attended Elkins High School. Murray committed to play football at Oklahoma in August of 2016. During his time at Oklahoma, he majored in Communications and was a three-year starter.
Clemson’s Isaiah Simmons is widely considered to be the top linebacker in this year’s draft class, but Murray should also draw plenty of attention from teams looking for help at this position.
After mainly playing outside linebacker in high school, he spent most of his time at Oklahoma starting at inside linebacker. Murray is quick to the ball, a good tackler and an effective blitzer. He has the size and skill set to have an immediate impact on an NFL defense.
Murray declared for the NFL Draft in early January. He’s coming off a solid junior season at Oklahoma in which he recorded 102 total tackles (17 tackles for loss), four sacks and four passes defended.
Following this impressive year, he was named to the First-Team All-Big 12. Murray had seven total tackles during Oklahoma’s 63-28 loss to LSU in the 2019 Peach Bowl.
As a true freshman in 2017, Murray started 13 games and had 68 total tackles, one sack, one forced fumble, and one fumble recovery. He was named the Big 12 Defensive Freshman of the Year.
Clearly, Murray did not have a difficult time translating his game from high school to college. His best statistical season at Oklahoma came in 2018, when he recorded 155 total tackles (12.5 tackles for loss), 4.5 sacks and two passes defended in 13 games played. He was named to the First-Team All-Big 12 in 2018.
Murray has the size, speed and athleticism to be a solid middle linebacker in the NFL. Perhaps his biggest flaw is that he was not very effective in coverage in his three years in college.
According to Michael Renner of Pro Football Focus, Murray allowed 82.4% of his targets to be completed during his playing career at Oklahoma. If he can improve this area of his game, he has the potential to be an elite linebacker in the NFL.
Why He’s a Fit
It seems likely that Giants’ general manager Dave Gettleman will decide to cut veteran linebacker Alec Ogletree sometime within the next few weeks. This move would give the Giants more cap space heading into free agency.
If this ends up being the case, the Giants will need to find a new starting inside linebacker. Simmons will certainly be someone that they target if he falls to them with the fourth overall pick in the draft, but he’s more of an outside linebacker. Gettleman will still need to find someone to replace Ogletree
Even if the Giants do select Simmons with the fourth pick, they could still end up with Murray if he falls to the second round of the draft.
This would give them two talented young linebackers who both have the potential to have a major impact on their defense. Rookie Ryan Connelly started alongside Ogletree at inside linebacker in 2019, but his season was cut short after he suffered a torn ACL in Week 4.
Connelly’s expected return next season should bolster the Giants’ linebacking corps, but this is an area of the defense that Gettleman needs to revamp this offseason.
The Giants need to get younger at this position, something that has been very apparent over the last couple of years. Moving on from Ogletree would be a step in the right direction. Gettleman should then use free agency and the draft to bring in some new linebackers.
Murray could be a decent fit for the Giants if Gettleman decides to draft him. Minus his issues in coverage, he has the skill set to be a special linebacker in the NFL. If Murray ends up falling to the Giants in the second round, Gettleman should not hesitate to draft him.